Freedom and fellowship

Feb. 17, 2020

Scripture Readings

I feel frustrated and burdened when I don't do things I should do or vice versa. Reading Romans 7, Paul expressed this painful reality. Though I am 'saved by grace,' I still judge myself by what I do or don't do, and likewise, jump to conclusions, judging others critically often without having the full picture.

In Mark's gospel reading today, Jesus' disciples were not fasting like everyone else and, horror of horrors, they were picking grain on the Sabbath! Some, like John's disciples, questioned with genuine concern because they had repented of their sins and desired salvation. The self-righteous, however, were critical. Instead of celebrating the healing of the man's hand, they accused Jesus of breaking God's commands. But Jesus doesn't look at you or me with a judgemental eye. He wants to lavish on us his goodness and celebrate with him in joyous, intimate fellowship. He calls each of us, regardless of our past failures and inferiorities. 

Look at the disciples; if I were choosing my "A" team to achieve the best results, it wouldn't have been any of these guys! God assigned each of us a specific purpose to serve him faithfully and joyfully out our love for him (Hebrews 12:2)! Only when I focus on myself, do I become disheartened. Look at Peter when he left the boat after Jesus invited him to walk on water. He was doing fine until he took his eyes off Jesus. My father, during the last days of his life, had a vision of Jesus inviting him home. With regret, he confessed how sinful he was. But Jesus told him all that was forgotten, his work completed and to come into his presence. 

Jesus accepts me as I am, warts and all, and he wants me to accept and have fellowship with those around me too. Again, look at the disciples he called who came from diverse backgrounds and had self-centred attitudes, and yet they became a unified force to build his church. The Exodus regulations extol the heart of God, providing tangible ways to honour and live in harmony with him and each other so that we can have unbroken and restored fellowship. I realize now the commandment to love the Lord and others is God's invitation. Not rules to remind me of my failures, but the truth that gives freedom and fellowship!

Jim Palmer

Elder and Treasurer at Foothills, community advocate, recovering Ontarian